Death of Coolidge shocks Washington

By United Press

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Calvin Coolidge, thirtieth president of the United States, died suddenly today at his home in Northampton.

He succumbed, according to physicians, to a heart attack that had developed while he was at his Main street law office, and he died alone in his bedroom.


Mrs. Coolidge, returning from a shopping trip, discovered the body at 1:15 p.m.

The former President had been dead thirty minutes, according to physicians.

The tragic death of the sturdy New Englander, who less than four years ago relinquished his high office in apparently the best of health, provided a parallel with the sudden death of his predecessor, Warren G. Harding, who died in a San Francisco hotel while his wife was reading to him, and after physicians had believed he had passed a serious crisis.

Oath Given by Father

It was upon the death of Harding that Coolidge, then Vice-President, assumed office. The oath, it was recalled today, was given to him in a lamp-lit room of an old farmhouse, by his late father -- a justice of the peace.


Coolidge had been in his usual good health, so far as his family knew. This morning he left his home in time to reach his office as usual at 8:30 a.m. He was greeted there by his former law partner, Ralph W. Hemenway, who remarked that he appeared to be "as sound as ever."

Coolidge and Hemenway exchanged pleasantries and discussed the weather.

Coolidge spent the ninety minutes he remained at the office in opening his heavy mail and dictating correspondence to his secretary.

Leaving the office about 10 a.m., the former President said merely "Good Morning" to Hemenway, who remained at work at his law office.

He worked steadily for about an hour and a half and then, accompanied by his secretary, Harry Ross, left for the Coolidge homestead, "The Beaches."

Mrs. Coolidge Returns

He left his secretary for a while, before noon. Ross continued his work downstairs, and did not accompany the former president.

Shortly after noon, Mrs. Coolidge, who had been shopping, returned to the house and inquired for her husband. She went upstairs and there, in his bedroom, made the tragic discovery.

Dr. Edward W. Brown, medical examiner, was summoned and, after examination of the body, said Coolidge had died of heart disease, and the death occurred probably half an hour before the discovery of the body.


The news of Coolidge's death broke with stunning suddenness over this quiet town. It was almost unbelievable under the circumstances of the former President's quiet life in the midst of the scenes and people whom he loved.

The four years since he surrendered the duties of the Presidency had been spent comfortably. The summer had been restful, with few business cares and almost no political activities to intrude upon his comfortable and non-exacting existence.

Interest in Commission

A greater part of the summer was spent at the Coolidge ancestral homestead at Plymouth, Vt., where he first took the oath of office while his late father, Col. John Coolidge, held the Bible.

Here he did some hunting and fishing, wrote a little, left occasionally to attend a meeting of directors in New York, but for the most part merely "rested."

In recent weeks he had found further interest in his membership of the railroad commission to which he had been appointed four months ago, and within the past month he had given considerable of his attention to the interests involved in that organization.

Although his general health was regarded as excellent, Coolidge had suffered from hay fever for many years. During his administration at Washington the ailment took the form of rose fever, and it was reported Coolidge would not seek a second term because of his desire to be in high, pollen-free regions of Vermont during the hay fever season.


An attack last summer, occurring about the Fourth of July, was particularly severe and the former President was confined to bed for two or three days.

It was thought this hay fever attack may have weakened Coolidge's heart.

Linked to Many Posts

His name had been linked with many vacant posts in recent months, so much so that one newspaper had dubbed him "America's handy man."

It was rumored he might succeed Dr. Arthur Stanley Pease as president of Amherst College (Coolidge's alma mater); James A. Farrell as president of the United States Steel Corporation, or Oliver Wendell Holmes as associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. He was mentioned, too, in connection with the presidencies of a New York insurance company and of a projected New England dairy organization.

Spoke in Campaign

So numerous did this rumors become, that only a few months ago Coolidge suggested to newspapers that whenever they recurred, regardless of their nature, they be denied.

Soon after Coolidge left the White House, he and wife moved from their modest duplex apartment to a $40,000 sixteen-room mansion, "The Breeches."

Only twice since leaving the White House had Coolidge engaged in politics -- first in 1930 when he made one radio speech in behalf of his close friend, William Butler, U.S. senatorial candidate, and the second time in the recent presidential campaign, when he spoke for Hoover.


Starts Political Career

Coolidge, a rugged, wiry example of New England politics, with a heritage of centuries behind him, rose to the Presidency through a series of fortuitous circumstances.

He was born, on Independence Day, of 1872, in Plymouth, Vt., and his early life was spent on his father's farm in the heart of the Green Mountains.

There was nothing in this environment to lead the boy to dreams of greatness. But like other farm boys, he made it his ambition to go to college. After years of hard work, in which the hard philosophy of a difficult struggle for a living became ingrained in him, he succeeded in reaching Amherst College, to graduate with distinction if not with high honors.

Until his graduation from college, there was nothing to indicate that Coolidge had any political ambitions whatsoever. But, after his admission to the state bar, and the beginning of modest legal practice in Northampton, Mass., in the office of Hammond and Field, he became town clerk -- the first step in a long political career.

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